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U.S. Geological Survey - Science and Decisions Center

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Who We Are

Goose Brood Waterfowl populations are managed to sustain species while permitting hunting. Credit: Donna Dewhurst, USFWS.

The USGS Science and Decisions Center serves as an institutional voice in USGS for three focus areas decision science, ecosystem services, and resilience which together form a scientific basis for decision making. The Center is a collaboration between two USGS mission areas (Ecosystems; and Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health), and it works in close cooperation with the USGS Cooperative Research Units, other USGS science centers, and universities and nongovernmental organizations through formal cooperative partnerships. A comprehensive framework for SDC includes identifying and valuing ecosystem services, incorporating these values into management objectives, comparing tradeoffs, evaluating the consequences of management decisions, and folding what is learned into ongoing management through adaptive decision making.

Adaptive Management

Adaptive management is "learning by doing" and adapting based on what is learned, in an objective, science-based management strategy that explicitly recognizes and delineates uncertainty.

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are attributes and outputs of ecosystems that are valued by human users. Ecosystem services are produced by ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, climate regulation, and maintenance of biodiversity. Ecosystems also provide marketable goods like seafood and timber.


Resilience is the ability of a system or a community to absorb shocks and still maintain the same basic structure and functions. Management for ecological resilience seeks flexible system behaviors that can deliver ecosystem goods and services on a sustained basis.



The Center's ongoing projects in support of science for decision making include field studies, cooperative agreements, books, articles, and conferences.

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Williams, B.K., and E.D. Brown. 2012.  Adaptive Management: The U.S. Department of the Interior Applications Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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sdcUSGS Science and Decisions Center - Advancing science-based decisions about natural resource management

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Liaison Activities

Advisory Committee, 12th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment, National Council for Science and the Environment, Carl Shapiro and Ken Williams, members.

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Applications in the Field

This page higlights applications now being implemented in the field. These applications are directly connected to thematic concerns of the Center.

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